Beds, Herts & Bucks

Shefford boys' home abuse inquiry: Man, 77, arrested

St Francis Boys Home - closed in the mid 1970s and converted into flats
Image caption St Francis Boys Home closed in the mid 1970s and was later converted into flats

A 77-year-old man from Norfolk has been arrested on suspicion of historical physical and sexual abuse after complaints about staff at a former Catholic boys' home in Bedfordshire.

The man, from Thetford, was interviewed and bailed at part of an investigation into Shefford St Francis Boys Home.

Police said the claims relate to four alleged victims.

The home, which was run by the Northampton diocese of the Catholic church, closed in the mid 1970s.

In May Bedfordshire Police revealed an investigation had started into abuse allegations at the home dating back to the 1950s and 1960s.

Four nuns

But last month police said the case had been closed as officers had been unable to find anyone alive to prosecute.

Earlier this month the BBC revealed detectives had received new information from an ex-resident.

Image caption Fr John Ryan was photographed in the early 1960s on a trip to Lourdes with boys from the home

The BBC has talked to former residents of the home who allege they were physically and/or sexually abused at the orphanage.

At the start of November, police said officers had investigated abuse allegations made by 28 ex-residents but had decided to close the case.

Police said the suspects included one priest (believed to be Father John Ryan, who ran the home in the 1960s), and four nuns, who "were found to have died", and two other suspects who could not be located.

Following the closure of the case the BBC sought more information on the investigation but this was refused on the grounds that "further evidence has come to light".

The Northampton Diocese of the Catholic Church, which ran the home, has said it "deeply regretted" any hurt caused, but has stressed the "claims are not proven".

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